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How to Take Care of Curly Hair: Autumn Hair Care Guide

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Table of Contents

Image shows the back of curly hair for autumn hair care guide.

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Autumn brings a unique set of challenges for individuals with curly hair, as the changing weather can leave curls confused and hard to manage. Much like how we adapt our skincare to better suit the cooler, drier conditions, our hair care practices must also evolve to maintain healthy, hydrated curls during the fall.

Caring for curly hair in the fall involves increasing moisturizing, utilizing emollients to smooth and protect the hair, keeping curls well-conditioned to combat dryness, and incorporating key ingredients known for their nourishing properties. These adjustments are crucial for preventing frizz and ensuring your curls look their best throughout the season.

In this blog, we will take a deeper dive into the specifics of fall curly hair care, offering detailed strategies and recommendations to help you navigate the seasonal shift with confidence and ease.

Refresh Your Curly Hair Care Routine for the Season

As the seasons shift, so does the impact on your hair, making it essential to refresh your curly hair care regimen to align with the changing weather. The key to preserving your hair’s beauty, texture, and manageability lies in maintaining proper moisture levels.

Water is the cornerstone of keeping your curls hydrated, which is critical for their health, appearance, and ease of styling. By ensuring your hair remains well-moisturized, you’re setting the foundation for vibrant, healthy curls that are more manageable and visually appealing.

How to Maintain the Moisture Balance

There are two main ways to maintain the hair’s moisture levels and keep the water molecules inside the hair fiber.

1. Add more water to the hair fiber.

2. Prevent water loss from hair fiber.

Enhancing Moisture in Curly Hair: The Importance of Proper Hydration

Humectants, chemical compounds known for their ability to attract and retain water molecules, are crucial in the battle against dry, frizzy hair. Common humectants like glycerin and propylene glycol are often included in hair care formulations to pull moisture from the air into the hair, aiming to boost hydration levels and smooth out rough textures.

However, these traditional humectants come with limitations. Their effectiveness can fluctuate with the humidity in the environment. In dry conditions with low humidity, instead of drawing moisture to the hair, they can inadvertently pull water out of the hair strands, leading to drier, more brittle, and frizzier hair. This reveals a potential drawback in relying solely on traditional humectants for hair moisture.

Thankfully, advancements in hair care technology have led to the development of new moisturizing ingredients that are drawing attention for their efficacy and benefits. Notable among these are:

  • Betaine: Extracted from sugar beet molasses, this compound, also known as glycine betaine, boasts a superior ability to bind water.
  • Propanediol: A natural moisturizer that offers multifunctional benefits.
  • Pyrrolidone Carboxylic Acid (PCA) Salts: Available in forms like sodium and zinc, these salts are highly effective in binding water.
  • Alpha-Hydroxy Acids: Such as lactic acid and its derivative, sodium lactate, known for their high water-binding capacities.

These innovative ingredients surpass traditional humectants like glycerin and propylene glycol in maintaining hair moisture, even in low humidity conditions. They also avoid the common issues of tackiness or heaviness associated with glycerin, offering a more effective and comfortable solution for maintaining the hydration of curly hair.

Emollients: The Shield Against Moisture Loss

Emollients are compounds rich in oily materials with lipophilic (oil-loving) properties, making them insoluble in water and not easily washed away. Their use becomes particularly vital in the winter months, a time when maintaining hair moisture is both challenging and essential. By forming a protective, water-resistant barrier on the hair shaft, emollients effectively prevent the evaporation of water from the hair, ensuring that moisture is locked in.

What sets emollients apart, especially in conditions of low humidity, is their ability to perform consistently without being negatively impacted by the dryness in the air. However, the effectiveness of emollients largely depends on the choice of oils or butters used.

The trend towards natural, sustainable, and nature-derived ingredients has highlighted the preference for natural oils or butters in hair care formulations. These natural emollients are favored not only for their environmental and sustainability benefits but also for their light texture and non-greasy feel, which contribute to a pleasant sensory experience without weighing down the hair.

Maintain Well-Conditioned, Healthy Curls

The health of the hair cuticle is crucial for maintaining smooth and well-defined curls, particularly in the harsh, dry conditions of winter. Regular application of a high-quality moisturizing conditioner is essential for protecting and nourishing curls.

Cationic conditioning agents, including cationic surfactants, are key to promoting healthy hair cuticles. Among these, long-chain quaternary molecules are favored by hair care professionals for their ability to provide excellent slip, facilitate easier combing both when wet and dry, and ensure cuticle alignment.

To ensure your curls remain well-conditioned and hydrated, make conditioner an integral part of your post-wash routine. Additionally, applying a quality leave-in conditioner before stepping outdoors can seal in moisture throughout the day. This strategy not only preserves the natural shape and definition of your curls but also shields them from the drying effects of winter weather.

Essential Ingredients for Optimal Curl Care

Focusing on the right ingredients can significantly enhance the health and appearance of your curls. Here’s a curated list of key components to look for in your hair care products:

  • Baobab Oil: Known for its exceptional emollient properties, baobab oil offers multifunctional benefits, making it a superior choice for nourishing and softening your curls.
  • Batana Oil: Hailing from Africa, this natural oil is revered for its ability to revive dry and brittle curls, restoring their natural luster and strength.
  • Jojoba Oil: A unique liquid wax that mimics the skin’s natural oils, providing excellent moisturization with a distinctive sensorial feel.
  • Sesame Seed Oil: A potent natural antioxidant that offers a light, non-greasy protective coating, enhancing the hair’s texture without weighing it down.
  • Castor Oil: This natural moisturizer stands out for its unique properties, offering hydration with a distinct aesthetic and sensorial experience.
  • Shea Butter: A treasure from Africa, shea butter is celebrated for its deep moisturizing capabilities, providing a lipid barrier and detangling benefits to keep curls manageable.
  • Betaine: A cutting-edge natural moisturizing agent, known for its extraordinary water-binding capacity to keep hair hydrated and vibrant.
  • Propanediol: Sought after for its ability to replace traditional humectants like glycerin and propylene glycol, providing natural, effective moisturization.
  • Behentrimonium Chloride or Methosulfate: These cationic detanglers excel in aligning hair cuticles, offering unmatched conditioning and ease of combing.
  • Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine or Behenamidopropyl Dimethylamine: Light-textured cationic detanglers that deliver special conditioning effects, enhancing the overall feel and manageability of curls.

Incorporating products with these ingredients into your routine can profoundly impact the health, moisture, and resilience of your curls, ensuring they remain beautiful and easy to manage.

Product Suggestions

Just a quick note – be sure to verify the size of the product, as it may vary across different sites.

Conditioners

Briogeo Curl Charisma Hydrating Conditioner

Formulated with rice amino acids, this conditioner seals the hair shaft to lock out moisture from the environment, helping to keep your curls looking soft, bouncy, and shiny.

In addition to providing hydration and sealing the cuticle, this curl-defining conditioner is packed with nourishing ingredients like tomato fruit ferment, mollis leaf extract, shea butter, and sweet almond oil.

These ingredients work together to moisturize and soften your hair while giving it the body and bounce you want without weighing it down. And thanks to the protective benefits of quinoa extract, your curls will be more resilient against damage from styling or environmental factors.


Bounce Curl Super Smooth Cream Conditioner

Formulated with organic aloe as the first ingredient, this conditioner is free of harmful chemicals and synthetic ingredients like silicones and parabens. It is safe for color-treated hair and is perfect for vegans looking for a cruelty-free product.

With its winning combination of nourishing ingredients, this conditioner is sure to be your go-to choice. I like to sometimes use this as a deep conditioner by leaving it in for 5-10 minutes before rinsing out.


Righteous Roots 2 in 1 Conditioner

Looking for a conditioner that will leave your hair silky soft and knot-free? This is the one! This all-in-one conditioner is infused with luxurious oils like baobab, grapefruit, jojoba, and peppermint to hydrate, nourish, and smooth your hair.

Plus, the unique formula of baobab oil coats your strands with slippery fats that unlock tangles and knots, making it the perfect choice for anyone with unruly or difficult hair. This conditioner is especially good for low porosity hair.


Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Conditioner

This unique formula is free from sulfates, providing intense moisture and nourishment to dry, frizzy hair without weighing it down or leaving behind unwanted residue.

With its blend of Fair Trade Shea Butter and other natural ingredients, this conditioner helps to give your curls and coils beautiful shine and softness with every use, and of course during the fall and winter season.


Pattern Beauty Heavy Conditioner

This conditioner is perfect for tighter textured coils. If you have high-porosity hair that needs a ton of moisture, then this is for you.

This product is formulated with nourishing ingredients that work to soften and smooth coily textures, making it an ideal choice for those with dry or damaged hair.


Shea Moisture Conditioner Intensive Hydration 

This intensive hydration conditioner from SheaMoisture is perfect for anyone with dry, damaged hair.

The formula is rich and nourishing, infused with restorative oils like manuka honey, mafura oil, and fig extract. It quickly detangles and moisturizes hair, leaving it soft and silky smooth.


Acure Wave & Curl Color Wellness Conditioner

This nourishing formula is made with rare, clarifying blue tansy oil, as well as moisturizing argan oil and sunflower seed extract, to provide intense moisture and help prevent color fade.

It is also vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free, sulfate-free, mineral oil-free, petrolatum-free, and formaldehyde-free, making it a great choice for those with sensitive or allergy-prone skin.


Leave-In Conditioners

L’anza Trauma Treatment

This leave in treatment has fastly become one of my favorites! This is an excellent leave in treatment to use if you’ve dyed your hair or experienced thermal damage.

This powerful formula is packed with essential amino acids and other nutrients that are essential for proper color attachment within the hair.

Ceramide-2 and tyrosine work together to provide deep healing, repairing damaged strands and preventing fading and uneven color.

With its lightweight, versatile formula, this treatment is perfect for restoring your hair’s health and vibrancy while protecting your precious color.


Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Leave-In Conditioner

This leave in conditioner is best for over processed or color treated hair. It is formulated with nourishing ingredients like fair trade Shea Butter and Jamaican Black Castor Oil.

This conditioner is perfect for kinky hair, curly or wavy natural styles as well as straight hair that has been damaged by heat styling or chemical treatments.

It helps to soften and detangle hair while controlling frizz, leaving locks looking sleek, smooth, and healthy.


Pattern Beauty Leave In Conditioner

This conditioner is best for tight curls and coils. This lightweight formula is packed with natural oils and honey to hydrate, detangle, and condition your curls, leaving them looking smooth and frizz-free.

Whether you’re washing your hair or putting it into a protective style, this leave-in conditioner is the perfect way to seal in moisture and give your curls the definition they need.

Innersense Sweet Spirit Leave-In Conditioner 

This is a plant-based formula infused with natural oils, fragrant herbs, and flower essences to condition, hydrate, and soothe even the most delicate hair.

This lightweight leave-in conditioner works well with all hair types, thanks to ingredients like tamanu oil, rosemary, lavender, and rooibos tea.

These ingredients are ethically sourced from trusted, transparent plantations and farms around the world, resulting in a formula that is completely free of parabens, sulfates, and other harmful chemicals.


Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino + Avocado Leave-in Defining Crème

This conditioner is made with rice amino acids, this formula helps seal the hair cuticle and lock out frizz-causing humidity, while tomato fruit ferment enhances moisture retention to support uniform curl formation.

Ultra-hydrating avocado oil works to keep your curls soft and bouncy, making it the perfect choice for those with wavy, curly, or coily hair types.

Briogeo Curl Charisma Curl Cream
$24.00 ($4.00 / Ounce)
Buy at Amazon Buy at Briogeo
03/22/2024 02:17 pm GMT

Ouai Leave-in Conditioner

This powerful, multi-tasking mist provides superior protection from heat and UV damage, leaving your hair soft, smooth, and tangle-free.

With amino acid blend, tamarind seed extract, and vitamin E, this leave-in conditioner also delivers deep nourishment to every strand of hair, giving you gorgeous shine and silky smoothness.

Bounce Curl Avocado & Rose Oil Clump & Define Cream

I like to use this a my leave in conditioner on days when I’m not a regular leave in conditioner. This has a very thick consistency, and has so many good-for-your-hair ingredients.

This unique formula is made with a blend of exotic oils from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Mediterranean regions.

It contains organic black seed oil, avocado oil, Egyptian abyssinian oil, Moroccan rose oil, argan oil, and many other nourishing botanical extracts.

The Clump & Define Cream is packed with beneficial ingredients that help to soften and condition your hair while providing light hold. It’s perfect for styling your hair while keeping it feeling lightweight and smooth.

Bounce Curl Avocado & Rose Oil Clump & Define Cream
$36.50 ($6.08 / Fl Oz)

Use 'muse' at Bounce Curl's checkout for a discount.

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03/22/2024 11:34 am GMT

Carol’s Daughter Coco Creme

This buttery, coil-enhancing styling cream is formulated with our signature Coco Crème formula to help add definition, shine, and softness to your curls.

Whether you’re rocking 4c curly hairstyle or loose waves in the 2c range, this nourishing hair mask is perfect for naturally curly hair.

It contains sweet almond oils, shea butter, and coconut oil to hydrate and nourish your coils for beautiful, healthy-looking locks.


Deep Conditioner

Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair!

This clinically proven hair mask works to strengthen and prevent future damage in just two uses, making it the perfect solution for those with dry, damaged, or color-treated hair.

Formulated with rosehip oil, B-vitamins, and algae extract, this hydrating formula is loaded with powerful antioxidants that restore essential moisture to dry, brittle hair.

Whether your hair has been over-processed from coloring or other chemical treatments or simply damaged from environmental factors like heat styling and UV exposure, this mask will help nourish and fortify your strands to leave them looking healthy and shiny.

Briogeo Don't Despair Repair!
$39.00 ($4.88 / Ounce)
Buy at Amazon Buy at Target
03/18/2024 06:05 pm GMT

Davines LOVE Curl Mask

This powerful conditioning treatment utilizes a blend of natural ingredients to deeply nourish and soften your hair, leaving it voluminous, elastic, and workable. With regular use, your curls and waves will be beautifully restored to their former glory.

Davines Love Curl Mask
$17.00 ($6.69 / Fl Oz)
Buy at Amazon Buy at Davines
03/22/2024 11:35 am GMT

Pattern Beauty Treatment Mask

This luxurious hair mask is infused with rice water, which is known for its powerful moisturizing and strengthening properties.

Whether you have tight coils, loose waves, or somewhere in between, this curly hair mask will nourish and hydrate your strands, leaving them feeling soft, silky, and healthy.

It’s also formulated with Moringa seed extract, which is known for its ability to promote hair growth.


Autumn and Winter Hair Care: A Comprehensive Guide

Forecast of fall season for autumn hair care guide.
Photo credit: cbs58

The changing seasons significantly influence the health and appearance of our hair, subject to various environmental factors like pollution, temperature fluctuations, and humidity levels. Hair, being a porous keratin protein fiber, naturally absorbs moisture from its surroundings and can also attract and retain fine particulate matter, such as pollutants from the air.

As autumn gives way to winter, many regions experience a marked decrease in temperature, leading to drier air. This shift can profoundly affect hair’s physical attributes and its overall condition. Curly hair, in particular, which is inherently more prone to dryness and fragility, faces increased challenges during the colder months. It becomes more susceptible to frizz, making styling and management a daunting task.

Understanding Autumn’s Effects on Curly Hair

The transition into the colder months brings about significant changes that can affect the health and appearance of curly hair, primarily due to:

  • Decreased temperatures
  • Reduced humidity levels

Hair’s porosity means it features countless tiny pores across its surface, facilitating the absorption of water molecules and active ingredients deep within the hair fiber. Keratin, the protein that hair is made of, swells as it absorbs moisture from the air, a process influenced by the surrounding humidity levels.4,5

In winter, the air’s lower humidity leads to drier conditions, causing hair to lose its moisture. This results in hair becoming dry, brittle, and more susceptible to damage. Extreme dryness can even lead to visible cracks along the hair shaft, exacerbating hair breakage.

Conversely, in high humidity, hair absorbs more moisture from the air, leading to increased swelling of the hair fibers. This can cause its own set of issues, such as frizz and difficulty in styling.

The effects of the autumn season on curly hair can thus be summarized as:

  • Increased dryness
  • Heightened frizz
  • Greater brittleness
  • Risk of physical hair shaft cracks or breakage 4,5
  • Tendency for curls to knot
  • Distortion of the natural curl pattern

Key Points To Remember This Fall

• Minimize your exposure to dry winter conditions.

• Avoid excessive washing; always use a gentle moisturizing shampoo.

• Use a deep conditioner that has a blend of cationic conditioning agents, humectants and natural emollients and butter.

• Always apply a leave-in conditioner before going outdoors.

• Once or twice a week at least, massage your hair with your preferred oil.


References

1.  Zviak, C., The Science of Hair Care. Taylor & Francis: 1986.
2.  Bernard, B. A., Hair shape of curly hair. J. Am. Acad. Dermatol. 2003, 48 (6, Supplement), S120-S126.
3.  Syed, A. N.; Syed, M. In Curly Hair: Structure, Properties, and Care, Society of Cosmetics Chemists, 75th, NY, USA, NY, USA, 2021.
4.  Robbins, C. R., Chemical and physical behavior of human hair. 4th ed.; Springer-Verlag: New York, 2002.
5.  Popescu, C.; Hocker, H., Hair – the most sophisticated biological composite material. Chem. Soc. Rev. 2007, 36 (8), 1282-1291.

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